Dallas Buyer’s Club, 12 Years a Slave, and diversity at this year’s Academy Awards

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Diversity may have shown up fashionably late to Hollywood, but this year’s Academy Awards acknowledged its arrival with a night of celebration.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted the show for the second time, having previously hosted in 2007. Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey took home two of the most prominent awards for their performances in “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” Cate Blanchett used her acceptance speech to champion female storylines, declaring, “we are not a niche.” Alfonso Cuarón was the first Latino to win Best Director.  And “12 Years a Slave” won various nominations and awards for its haunting and brutal portrayal of the slave trade. 

With “12 Years a Slave” winning Best Picture and Lupita Nyong’o taking home the Best Supporting Actress award, the night’s big winner, and various speeches, drew attention both to the history of racism and the slave trade, as well as it’s very modern reality, with director Steve McQueen dedicating his award, “to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”

Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor and Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor for their performances in “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” The story of AIDS and Leto’s portrayal of a transgender woman brought the history and struggles of the LGBT community into the night’s conversation. 

After being criticized for speeches at the Golden Globes, Leto was sure to use his win as a platform to discuss the importance of the film and the issues it explores. He acknowledged the “36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who ever felt injustice for who you are and who you love.” 

He added, “Tonight, I stand in front of the world with you and for you.”

Civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred made a bold statement on the red carpet. Make-up artist Daniel McFadden glued the words “EQUAL RIGHTS FOR LGBT” onto her back.

From pizza deliveries to Twitter-breaking selfie pics, Ellen DeGeneres put on a humble show, interacting with the audience and connecting the viewers at home to the celebrities at the event.

DeGeneres is the first ever openly gay host in Academy Award history, having hosted twice now, as well as the second woman ever to lead the show solo.

Even Jared Leto gave a shout out to DeGeneres in his acceptance speech, saying: “Ellen, I love you.”

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